Friday, 22 August 2014

Mommy Mental Health: Body Image During Pregnancy

From the moment my baby belly started to show, my transitioning physique (in all its swelling glory) was apparently open for discussion. At the beginning, I was enamoured with my ever growing belly. I loved the perfectly rounded shape and I felt proud to walk around in my flattering maternity clothes almost as if I had joined an elite club. Sadly, this feeling falters now and then as I get further into my pregnancy for two reasons. The first is physiological: my belly gets in the way of simple tasks and I have been suffering serious back pains because of it. These feelings of frustration can generally be assuaged by reminding myself that I am growing a little person…and it’s so worth it!

The second reason is harder for me to control: my psychological reaction to the changes fuelled by the running commentary of other people. The worst hit to my self-confidence being the dreaded comparison to other pregnant women.  There is nothing like being called “huge” and having those around you go on and on about “how much bigger” you are than someone else who is currently expecting. Most comments are vocalized with good intentions, but even the most innocuous statement (“Wow, you've really grown!”) can validate the horrible feelings you've been having about your changing body.

In the spirit of blocking out negativity and refocussing on the wonderful joy of being pregnant, here are some tips for loving your body (and keeping your sanity) for the whole 9 months and after:
  • Eat Well. By now, we all know that "eating for two" is a myth. There is nothing wrong with indulging every now and then (whether you're pregnant or not) but it's better to focus on nutrition the majority of the time. If you eat a Big Mac and fries every day of your pregnancy, you'll end up gaining more weight than necessary and fuelling the bad feelings about your body.
  • Take Some "Me Time." It isn't a good idea to spend all of your time worrying about the changes in your physical appearance or the stressful changes on the horizon. Do yourself and your baby a favour and schedule in some time to relax. Exercise is recommended during pregnancy so take a nice long walk, or if taking a bubble bath is your thing, fill up that tub!
  • Get Fancy. Splurge on a new haircut, or take the time to put on make-up in the morning. Whether you're growing a baby bump or trying to shrink it down after the fact, focus on the things you can control. Do something that makes you feel beautiful. (Remember your limits, though: your hair is different because of hormones while you're pregnant so don't go too crazy with a haircut that tailors to your thicker will change back. Also, dyes are not advised during this time.)
It's normal to feel uncomfortable -both physically and mentally- during pregnancy and immediately after, but it shouldn't take over your life. Take the time to bond with your belly, and don't let other people's comments get you down. If Kim Kardashian can survive the onslaught of pregnancy fat jokes, you can too!

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